The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) welcomed news of “long overdue railway reform plans” as a step in the right direction.
Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Director of the BCC, said: “It’s good to see recognition of the ongoing need for private sector investment and innovation in our railways. Rail reform, now long overdue, needs to give industry the confidence to invest for the future and ensure that the needs of the passenger come first.
“Passengers want more reliable services that give them the confidence to travel by rail and more affordable and flexible fares that support a diversity of working patterns and modern means of employment.
“To make that work the pricing system for tickets must be equally flexible – supporting businesses who need to travel at short notice and the needs of commuters. Flexible fares must provide a reasonable level of discount without a straitjacket being placed on their use. Get this right, and it will encourage more people to travel, rather than penalising them when they do.
“This encouraging start must translate into a longer-term concrete commitment to positive change for our railways that places the passenger at the heart of the system.”
She made her comments following Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announcement that a new state-owned body, Great British Railways, would be set up to set timetables, prices, sell tickets in England and manage rail infrastructure.
He said the move would result in better and more efficient services from 2023 onwards, plus better connections. There will also be changes to make travel smoother, including simplifying the purchase of tickets, more pay as you go, contactless and digital ticketing on smartphones.
And from next month flexible season tickets will be available for some people who commute two or three times a week.